Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Lands of Quasqueton (Country-As-Dungeon)

 This is an attempt to adapt the first floor of the  B1 In Search of the Unknown dungeon into an overland realm, in the style of a previous attempt. In so doing, I'm pretty sure I've totally ruined its initial purpose, as I'm pretty sure he mapping challenges for which B1 is famous have mostly been obliterated. Not only have many of the convoluted areas been unknotted, but the overland rules I'm entertaining with this format allow PCs to forge alternate routes in extremis. There are unmarked changes to the way the areas are laid out, even beyond the shift from dungeon to countryside.

This version promises an odd experience. The encounter table, which I attempted to jazz up, is a bit lackluster, and this ostensibly settled realm is notably quite depopulated. You will want your copy of B1 open if you study this adaption closely, as I tried to avoid duplicating work or restating tedious information. The cavern level of the dungeon was not adapted, but hopefully you can imagine how they might translate into a stirring underdark locale.

In this case, I imagine 1 overland Turn is equal to five days travel, and can get you through five squares, ten if you're sailing upriver or walking on ice, fifteen if you're sailing downriver. Every sixth turn, a party will need to rest for a few days. I've been thinking about long-term travel and how to make them more concrete. Perhaps a DM should force such long expeditions to include pack animals, porters, or vehicles and set a price for 3 months of supplies, using an equipment list like the one found in the Prairie Traveler to specify exactly what this equipment is.


The first dynasty of Quasqueton was established by the warrior king Rogahn the Fearless and the potent wizard Zelligar the Unknown. In the turbulent times that have since come to the riverine kingdom, it is said that they will one day return from their doomed campaign in distant lands, leading an army of gay soldiers in fine array, tooting horns and waving banners, fighting to banish trouble and evil on the roads and rivers.

Quasqueton is a land with cold, wet autumns and long, chilling winters. The rivers which feed trade near-fully freeze for 1d2+4 months of the year.


1. 1d6 orcs. The descendants of those enslaved in earlier dynasties, most orcs live as outlaws and are suspicious of strangers.

2. 1d2 giant centipedes. Largely harmless, but attack if you get too close, which is most likely to occur by accident if you pass by their burrow in winter.

3. 1d6 kobolds. Likely peddlers, farmhands, or cowpokes. Pant in the summer, roll around in winter.

4. 1d20 troglodytes. Last generation they migrated here as raiders. Now they are often mercenaries and guards marrying into local leadership. Not well adapted to the cold.

5. 1d4+1 giant rats

6. 1d2 x 10 berserkers. Most of their ranks are filled with disaffected local bachelors and widows or widowers who seek something to be a part of.

  • 0. Delta City Ruins. Once a bustling trade port flanked by high cliffs. Now no longer continuously occupied. Statues of various kings and potentates stand half-ruined in alcoves carved into the cliffs. Some are enchanted with Magic Mouths that make grandiose boasts. In the west cliff is a statue of Rogahn and in the east cliff is a statue of Zelligar. Behind each of these two is a hidden passage through the stone, coming out in valleys that serve as secret routes. Searching the city will yield the remains of four adventurers, as well as signs of previous campsites.
  • 1. The River Quasque. Allows travel at double speed if you have a boat or, in winter, a sled team or snow shoes. The tributary fed from area 31 is called the Rayon. When it splits at the Steel Cliffs (area 4), it is called the North and South Rayon. People in this part of the country are considered awkward and pretentious. The tributary fed from area 5 is called the Alet. People in this part of the country are considered pious and well-formed, and everybody loves them. The longest branch of the river, fed from 18, is called the Rimewater when it needs to be distinguished from other parts of the river. People in this part of the country are considered hardy and needlessly sinister.
  • 2. Kettle Town. Farms and fortified granaries around a town of grates and awnings. Civic reverence for the town's original residents, the hirelings of Rogan and Zelligar, is slowly morphing into a religion.
  • 3. Steel Cliffs West. The safe ascent on the western face is guarded by a camp of a dozen orc fisherfolk. In lean years, they dabble in piracy. Their captain, Sentia, wears shoddy brigandine, a braided beard, and an immaculate lion-faced Shield +1. Drinking and gaming is the group's only outlet..
  • 4. Steel Cliffs East. No easy ascent from anywhere but area 3. Standing unspoiled is a beautiful marble statue of a beckoning woman lifting up a scimitar.
  • 5. Alet Mountains. Ample valleys and foliage make traversing the range less arduous than it otherwise might be. Atop one of the more gradual slopes is the brutalist Tower of Zelligar. Within, untouched by the ages, is a massive mural depicting his military victories, a fine bed with his name engraved in it, some ewers and other minor treasures, and, hidden behind a screen in a chest with a poison needle trap, an ornate glass vial containing the tears of a Ghost, which serves as a potion of invisibility.
  • 6. Zelligar's Villa, now a ruin. Fallow vineyards surround it. Crab spiders infest the interior of the intact buildings, and hanging on a stand is a Bag of Devouring, which seems like rich purple fabric on the exterior but scratchy burlap on the inside.
  • 7. Alet Grove. A path from the Tower leads here, a beautiful and enchanted place where a unicorn wouldn't be out of place. The bottom of a still pool seems to be lined with coins and gems, but it is only an illusion. When disturbed, it disintegrates like ink in the water to reveal a pair of zombies in rusted-up ring armor wielding spears.
  • 8. Highland Outcropping. Studded with the tombs of later dynasties. One is notably more ancient in construction but much better preserved than others. Within, rather than a tomb, is an arcane workroom. Environmental storytelling reveals that this was built in secret by Zelligar IV the Secret-Fire, and is of a middle dynasty.
  • 9. Highland Fields. Dotted with gullies and the detritus of arcane rites which have been conducted here for generations, ending only twenty years ago. Home to such things as smoke that incapacitates with a full day of uncontrollable laughter, dickishly enchanted rings which are actually worthless, sites of human sacrifice, torn skins with arcane prophecies painted onto them, vats of weird goo, deep fire pits, busted-up coffins, occasional caches of honey and grain, and tins of incense. A clique of thirty strange, withered, blue-skinned people, the descendants of a lapsed priesthood, act as custodians here. Stats as goblins, typically encountered in groups of ten. They are led by Oltid, who wields a false magic wand (radiates magic) in combat, hoping it will cast some kind of spell.
  • 10. Dakel's Cove. A cave hidden in a cliff bank on the River Quasque. To access it, you need to swim under the brickwork of a section of the cliff, reinforced by a moss-covered brick wall which conceals a beach in a long overhang. Attentive PCs may notice that the bottom of the brick wall is held up by stone arches, giving access just a couple feet under the surface of the water. Within the cove are 60 barrels with boring contents, like barley, soap, and lard, as well as a 400 gp pearl which has rolled behind a barrel full of peas.
  • 11. Rime Plateau. Largely a collection of inaccessible and rocky vistas, with several waterfalls feeding into the river. Half-visible in one waterfall is a chain ladder rattling around. The force of the water makes climbing the ladder almost impossible, but during the winter months the falls freeze and the ladder comes to the front, due to dwarven constructions of its blah blah blah. Ascending leads to an old miner's camp, abandoned in one of the recent political crises. In addition to some gear useful to adventurers— rope, chains, iron spikes, there are piles of wooden beams, building mortar, stone blocks, and assorted hardware. The mine itself never went into operation, and it would be the investment of thousands of gold coins to get it running. However, it would reliably turn a profit in tin ore for years to come.
  • 12. The Unknown Library. A remote holdfast near a mouth of the river, accessed by a grand series of bridges and paths. Unfortunately, because the library was named for a latter-day imitator of Zelligar and not for its actual secrecy, the library was destroyed in a power struggle last century. Most of the tomes and scrolls have been destroyed, but hidden in a secret room only noted in the directory is a Silver bracelet worth 32 gp and a tell-all biography of Zelligar I's daughter, Boed the Apt. The kobolds from area 13 sometimes make the trek to visit this place. They use glowing bugs in jars for light and greatly value literature despite lacking the means to produce paper, vellum, or other appropriate sheets.
  • 13. Sidif. A dozen small kobold villages, only half of which are currently occupied. The rest, either home to peddlers who are not present or abandoned in the past generation, contain various mundane tools and implements, as well as about 9800 copper coins that would take a few days of ransacking to gather.
  • 14. The Drakewood. Dense and difficult to traverse, with needled ferns that cause a burning rash. It was by this routes that the troglodytes entered Quasqueton, and most troglodytes could give directions for safely traversing it. In the darkest part of the forest is a giant, hollowed out oak tree that once served as a hermitage, and within, on a small hanging rack, can be found two scrolls of cure light wounds engraved with illustrations of saints healing the sick. At the DM's discretion, the Drakewood can connect on its western edge to another realm.
  • 15. Village of Downing Fields, a rustic but inviting alpine spot. Festivals are common, the mayor is inviting, and raiders never seem to trouble them. Those who visit are unknowingly transported to area 16, confusing navigation.
  • 16. Village of Fielding Downs. As area 15, but the mayor has a hole in one eye that's constantly dripping some fuzzy fluid and no one acknowledges it.
  • 17. Meter Hill. Sister peak to the Rime Mountain Peak (area 19). Often coughs up ash and soot. In the side of a cliff is an impressive stone door that will never open, a mean-spirited trick of Rogahn II Half-Elven. Around the door are elven runes mocking those who attempt to open it as weaklings and babies. A carcass crawler lingers near the peak, half-submerged in the ash but unfortunately distinct to the eye.
  • 18. Rimewater Mouth. The river powers a pair of water wheels around which a small town has sprung. There is a large smithy there, but the stern smith who owns it is too old to work the forge, and all her sons have died or gone.
  • 19. Rime Mountain Peak. Some stubborn trees grow here. In a short cave a long shaft can be found that runs down, down, down to the caverns under Quasqueton. A block and tackle is fitted into the cavern ceiling directly above the hole with rusted nails. When more than 100 pounds of weight are put on the tackle, there is a chance the nails will snap and it will fall out of its fitting. About 300 feet down the shaft, the irregular walls are met with steep, crudely-cut spiral stairs that lead down, down, down.
  • 20. Lesser Mountains. A high redoubt on a remote hill is visible from a great distance, but traveling to it involves a spiraling, circuitous route that slows travel. Frustratingly, the interior is totally unfinished, and empty except for some bear scat, a small wooden box holding 140 gold coins, and a clay tablet amateurishly inscribed with a smiling face.
  • 21. Lamoe, called by outsiders the Troglodyte Moot. Raiders have settled the fertile lands overlooking Delta City, and begun to tend it, growing tomatoes suspected of being poisonous and potatoes believed to be venomous. Outsiders have a good chance of being hassled by the Ambo, a clan of nosy warriors. Their warriors number eight, and they are led by Uwlo, who wields an amber-chased +1 dino-head flail, and his one-eyed aunt, Aiphu One-Eye, who wields a two-handed whip. She has a false map that accurately shows areas 1 and 17-22 and incorrectly maps the rest of the land of Quasqueton.
  • 22. Overgrown Reserve. The thick woods here slow travel. Fungus and molds of every color of the rainbow infest the reserve, and the spores are unpleasant to breathe. 
  • 23. Woodrow. Series of woodcutting communities overlooked by Castle Rogahn's cliff along the south. A tunnel in the vault of a cliffside belltower leads up to the castle proper.
  • 24. Consort's Villa. Built abutting the cliff of area 25. Currently ransacked and in disrepair, although searching the compound can yield a silver mirror worth 360 gp, as well as a black widow spider hiding under a bed and ready to crawl out. If the party splits up to search the villa, one will probably still spot it emerging. In a central room, there is a small statuette of a local deity, and in its hand in a wooden box containing a golden ring of protection +1 with a heart-shaped ruby, as well as fragile piece of paper that says in crude hand "Melissa, God knows I have done nothing to deserve you. You are the one beautiful thing in this sinful world that brings me any joy and you give each of my days meaning. I am sorry I have no beautiful words to say these things. Will you marry me?" In a basement, behind some smashed up wine racks, is a tunnel into area 25.
  • 25. Castle Rogahn. Surrounded on all sides by steep drops, with a winding approach on the west side that has utter collapsed. A spartan and forlorn fortification raised by Rogahn, dwarfed in grandeur by later ages. It is operated to this day by jumped-up burgers and their servants, though they cannot find it in themselves to fully pretend they exercise any power. There are some treasures preserved here— an antique silver spider medallion on a chain, worth 200 gp, four centuries-old tapestries showing scenes from the early days of the Land of Quasqueton, and a 20'-long bed with an 'R" inscribed in it, allegedly belonging to Rogahn. They sure made heroes tall in those days. Connects by hidden tunnels to areas 23 and 24.
  • 26. Favor District. A series of small, planned settlements on rocky, uneven land. Abandoned as unsuitable living, but there are fallen nobles elsewhere in the the land who would seek to regain their estates here. Trophies of various sorts can still be found here, as well as a pillar engraved with martial triumphs over a dragon, a basilisk, orc tribes, and other foes. At the center of the district is a stone belltower, its insides rotting and home to a colony of Shriekers. Any convulsing or klaxon from the fungus causes the ancient bell to ring, causing a random encounter check. Fallen in the guts of the base of the tower are 80 silver coins.
  • 27. Two Thrones. Basalt flat, with two vaguely chair-shaped hills near the center.
  • 28. Chapel of Oduma. Thriving community of settled orcs around a large church to the chaotic, poorly-sketched deity Rennat. Established by a short-time ally of the Quasqueton dynasties before it was abandoned. The church seems to be in disrepair because construction on it was never completed. Near a sacrificial pit with a spooky pentagram is a leather pouch with 40 pieces of electrum.
  • 29. Erig's Rest. Sleepy rustic villages. The landmark of note is a cairn said to belong to a minor king.
  • 30. Erigwood. Ferny forest with many maple and oak trees. In the south of the region is an exposed limestone outcropping with a large cave, leading gradually down into the cavern roads of Quasqueton. 3280 silver coins are stacked neatly in 20 sacks of 164 coins each in a chamber near the entrance, retrieved from below and abandoned for unknown reasons.
  • 31. Rayon Mountains. Home to many strange springs, each of a different color and consistency. Analogue to B1's pool room. Exploring the valleys and crevices of the southern expanse reveals a hidden stair that leads to a mountain peak (area 32).
  • 32. Rayon Peak. Home to a family of dwarves, the Marevak Clan. Long-lived, they knew many rulers of the realm personally and act as conduits of history. What's more, they are skilled architects open to working for anyone who might seek to restore the workings of Quasqueton. For treasure, beyond several interesting blueprints on a drafting table, the patriarch of the clan wears a Ring of +1 protection, and they keep a healing potion (2 doses) in case of mishaps.
  • 33. Hinterland. The strong and loyal Etex people were sought after as recruits for Quasqueton's army, but those who remain here are agreeable and gentle. There's an old parade ground and barracks, where 60 gold coins can still be found in an old lockbox.
  • 34. Gangrel Swamp. Flooded land thick with small trees and shrubs, where bubbles of flammable gas arise frequently, making the use of open flames impossible. Home to many orcs living at an unhappy subsistence level, slowly making a circuit of the area. Near the center of the swamp is the orc outlaw Everard, whom they all respect for his wisdom and tenacity. His home in the trunk of an anomalous mangrove tree contains, among other things, a valise carrying fine clothes worth 100 gold coins.
  • 36. Noqa Mill. Disused mill with an oversized water wheel. The foundations of the mill are unstable, and there is a 2-in-6 chance per person entering that the floor and half the building suddenly sink, smashing through the ceiling of a cave to land in a deep cavern (area 50).
  • 37. Porterhouse Plains. Site of an ancient battle, serene. Searching the old site for a few days yields chain links, bones, a few rusted weapons, and a gold ring worth 40 gp
p.s. decided to add a literal back-of-the-envelope map of Quasqueton as a citizen of that land might draw it for some adventurers.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Mechanical Bonuses

 In the vein of Signature Moves for Humanoid Combatants, this is another simple generator, applying one number on your character sheet to another number. This kind of mechanic is common in systems like Pathfinder 1E, which I once played quite a bit of, but are more rare in the OSR games I tend to favor these days. I think there's still room for them in different places. Instead of making classes with stacks of such abilities, they can differentiate a world of strange creatures, artifacts, plants, substances, and strangenesses.

Treat these simple outputs as a starting point. They lack context, and you may wish to tailor them to specific situations. It can be fruitful to imagine the ability as a byproduct of something really bizarre. For example, you could explain an ability like "May use your listen at door chance in place of breath saves" as a lagniappe on a character who has been transformed into a creature moldable like clay, who can squish against flat surfaces better than they can tumble out of the way of dragonfire. This might suggest other advantages,-- maybe this character never has to worry about breaking their bones. When selecting options for the generator, I took an inclusive view in order to maximize weirdness, so there will be some duds.

When brainstorming what form these bonuses take, keep in mind how players will treat an effect that can be swapped around, like one that affects the wearer of a magical item. Some abilities are best when they’re stuck to a particular PC, whether by mutation, training, specific blessing, or other means.

This generator has potential use for curses and drawbacks if you invert the result. Replace a “may” with a “must” or a bonus with a penalty.

As always, thanks to Spwack for his generator generator.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Meeting of Four Lives (GLoG Class: Archer)

In certain uncertain times, the archer was a strange talisman. They enjoyed a sort of elite status in wartime, but were often drawn from the remote and lonely parts of the land, where to hunt was the lifeway. To kill from a distance is a powerful thing, and some say that our species became fully human in developing our brains to calculate the subtleties of throwing projectiles. To kill from a distance is a powerful thing, for that is what kings fear and what is murmured in the pubs and meeting halls of discontented yeomen.

As they say, the highest head may fall to the man who wields the bow.

art by Ernst Stückelberg

Class: Archer

+1 to-hit per level
Starting Items
: 7' yew bow stored in a linen bow bag, jerkin of dusty lincoln green, quiver of twenty-four bodkin arrows with your signature crest and fletching (d6 damage), pen knife (d4 damage), a kettle helmet (AC 12), a dozen bowstrings squirreled away in the rest of your pack

  • A: Four Lives, The Telling
  • B: Air Time, Heavy Draw
  • C: Grip Strength, Twenty Brothers
  • D: Split Shot, Border Broken

Four Lives
You are not like other soldiers. You are the boundary stone between two fraternities— the world and its enemies. There are rites no one taught you, that no one else will ever see. You dispatch Death, and he reports on you. While in good standing, you can hear hollow spaces and always find good game. If you lose your good standing, someone will come to take your bow and middle fingers.

The Telling
Specify a dime-sized spot in space. Aim for one turn, then release on the next turn. Your projectile goes unerringly towards that spot.

Air Time
By firing at extreme arcs, you can fire off attacks delayed by up to three rounds. With good planning, you can fire off three shots that all strike the same spot in the same round.

Heavy Draw
No one can draw your bow except archers of your level or better. You can fire arrows weighed down with ropes, bombs, or other things that normally wouldn’t fly.

Grip Strength
Your hands count as steel when it would be convenient to you.

Twenty Brothers
You know the slanders to mutter to your arrowheads to make them quarrelsome. They stick in your target, giving -1 to AC and saves per arrow sticking in them. Each arrow they may tear out in the midst of battle costs 1 hp.

Split Shot
By spending an extra 1d6 arrows, turn your normal shot into a 60’ line attack or 40’ cone of arrows

Border Broken
When the sun rises and before it falls below the horizon, you have twelve Judo Points. As you gain this ability, choose one of the Four Lives:

Cat: spend Points to add to rolls to sneak, to climb, or to snap.

Branch: spend Points to add to rolls to resist sunder attempts, to remain rooted, to navigate, or to bend without breaking.

Quarry: spend Points to add to rolls to throw someone, to dress a wound, or to slip out of grasp.

Man: spend Points to add to rolls to hit a target. One of the two fraternities embraces you and one rejects you. You are now like other soldiers.

Items Known to Archers

  1. Sheath of 24 Broadhead Arrows- deal 1d8 damage. Dames don't like it when you call em broadheads.
  2. 8 Cruelly Barbed Arrowheads- if you use these to hunt, lose your good standing. Causes constant bleeding, cannot be easily removed
  3. Thick Quarterstaff- 1d10 damage, but slow.
  4. 4' Horn Shortbow- fires less far, but better suited to riding. Allows for a Parthian shot as you retreat.
  5. Caltraps- strung together in an irregular web for swiftness of deployment and removal. Called by hand-to-handers and cavaliers "caltrops."
  6. Soldier's Rosary- shortened, to allow for quicker prayers.
  7. Ring Bow- a bow with a small ring in the bowstring where an arrow would normally be nocked. This bow is paired with nockless, tapered-back arrows so that foes cannot collect the arrows to fire them back.
  8. Flip Brassard- a hand tab designed to protect the hand from being hit by the string, equipped with a hinged buckler that can slot into place when the bow is set aside.
  9. 5' Ash Recurve Bow- you could talk all night about relative draw strengths and so on, but for game purposes this is just as good as your yew bow, just a bit shorter. 
  10. Trollhair Drawstring- never needs to be replaced and cannot be cut, except by a red-hot knife.
  11. Homemade Flute- if you could make this, you know how make an arrow that screams.
  12. Horn Armguard- works no better than a leather one, but swaggalicious.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Arthurian Knight Generator

 An unsophisticated generator combining slightly edited versions of Elfmaids and Octopi's d100 lists: Childhood Tragedies for Noble Folk, Superhero Love Life Gone Wrong, pilgrimage of atonement, with some historical towns and counties, as well as a simple heraldry generator. In addition to attested Brynthonic names, I also used an Arthurian name generator.

For your perusal, I've also gone ahead and prerolled 100 Arthurian knights:

  1. Sir Meddwystl of Caer Ceri (per fess gules, argent, and the first, a wolf rampant proper) Clan head tried to change religion and massive uprising left family estate an empty ruin. Time travelers from oppressive alternate future are his offspring.
  2. Sir Yderiath of Argyll (per fess sable and or, an anchor or) Ex-lover wants relationship back desperately.
  3. Sir Valewlwyd of Caer Draitou (per pale or and sable, a Saint Andrew's Cross vert) He is on a quest to kill everything in a dungeon and destroy it.
  4. Sir Idwawl of Shropshire (per chevron sable and argent, a wheel or) Ancestor looked just like him and he has heard their whispers in his dreams.
  5. Sir Mael of Banffshire (per fess sable and argent, a key or) God offended by clan and turned family into monsters. He is on a quest to convert a king to his faith.
  6. Sir Tudfwlch of Caer Grauth (per pale or and azure, a crescent proper) Family assassinated one by one sent by unknown enemies. His lady love devotes life to charitable or political cause. He is on a quest to raise village mob and destroy a place of evil.
  7. Sir Afabon of Surrey (per bend gules and or, a falcon volant proper) Phantoms tormented him as a child.
  8. Sir Cynfan of Caer Cei (vert, a deer courant facing to chief or) Sent to study under cruel master to learn his trade. He is on a quest to drive an evil hound from a wilderness area.
  9. Sir Helledderch of Caer Weir (gules, a sword argent) Family branded heretics and driven away by church. His lady love is obsessed with knowing his alter ego. He is on a quest to liberate an oppressed kingdom.
  10. Sir Eigion of Bedfordshire (gules, a turtle regardant proper) His lady love is on the run from a villain, secret society, or cult.
  11. Sir Cilydd of Caer Fawydd (per chevron or and azure, a hexagram argent) A blasphemous cult held him as a mate for their god but he managed to escape. He helped a stranger out who asked him to court her.
  12. Sir Evradwyn of Buckinghamshire (or, a salmon purpure) He is on a quest to exterminate all the disease in a city .
  13. Sir Kenver of Fife (or, a lozenge gules) An old friend or mentor confesses they always loved him. He is on a quest to heal and give alms to the poor.
  14. Sir Clydog of Kincardineshire (per pale gules, argent, and the first, a dragon guardant purpure) Family famous for madness. Inappropriate love interest has embarrassing crush on him. He is on a quest to hunt all the bandits on the kingdoms roads.
  15. Sir Lleënog of Caer Ebrauc (per bend sinister azure and or, a starling rising proper) His lady love is threatened by someone and lives in terror.
  16. Sir Kenal of Caer Uisc (per pale sable, argent, and the first, a lamp proper) His lady love is shocked by event and suffers mental breakdown. He is on a quest to burn down a library or reliquary or cathedral of a rival religion.
  17. Sir Morgan of Caer Teim (per fess or and azure, a human with a sword and shield or, vert) Clan offended a high witch who now has clan leader under thrall. He is on a quest to rescue and raise a sacred child to be a hero of the faith.
  18. Sir Cadog of Cheshire (per pale vert, argent, and the first, a four-pointed star purpure) Family estate with family gathering vanished leaving bare earth in place. His lady love is revealed to be a bigot "but they might change!" .
  19. Sir Calonce of Caer Guorthigirn (per fess purpure and or, a mullet proper) He is on a quest to steal relic from a foreign land.
  20. Sir Deigion of Caer Lerion (per pale or and purpure, a starling wings displayed and expanded gules) Family tried to blame crimes on him to absolve selves.
  21. Sir Heiddyn of Devon (per pale azure and argent, an anchor or) He is on a quest to build a temple each year.
  22. Sir Llywarch of Kent (or, a human with a sword and shield proper, sable) Ancestor mated with inhuman beings. His lady love is a villain or changed into one, and doesn't even know. He is on a quest to free an imprisoned supernatural being and ally of his faith.
  23. Sir Gwallog of Caer Isurion (per bend argent and azure, a key or) His lady love is a career undercover criminal. He is on a quest to punish a cruel king.
  24. Sir Rhun of Ayrshire (or, an ox rampant regardant purpure) His lover didn't used to be human and came from an artifact or spell.
  25. Sir Berwyn of Caer Ligualid (per chevron argent and gules, a torch purpure) Stalked by evil spectre of wicked ancestor who tried to make him like them. He is on a quest to preach at every opportunity to as many people as possible.
  26. Sir Brezelgar of Renfrewshire (per chevron vert and argent, a wolf courant facing to chief argent) Mad clan increasingly crazily and punishes any who question them.
  27. Sir Arthial of Rutland (per pale sable and or, an eye argent) A vampire ancestor used to feed from him as a youth. His lady love is obsessed with knowing his past and origin.
  28. Sir Morudd of Lancashire (azure, a scroll argent) Taken by wicked knight to extract gold from family. A childhood friend turns up with secret love interest. He is on a quest to abstain from killing, no matter how much he really wants to.
  29. Sir Cynri of Caer Catarauc (per bend argent and azure, a swan volant argent) A cult tried to take his family over but instead there was a bloodbath. He is on a quest to establish a poor hospital in a busy place and maintain it.
  30. Sir Serwil of Caer Guiragon (per fess gules, argent, and the first, a cup azure) his lover has a sibling who becomes obsessed with their love.
  31. Sir Keullech of Kent (per fess azure and or, a lion passant regardant argent) Cult coven has infiltrated clan and turned to blasphemy. A frail dependent relative occupies love interests time.
  32. Sir Rhodri of Inverness-shire (or, a wheel proper) Had an illicit love affair and sweetheart killed by his family.
  33. Sir Mawn, Maun of Caer Guent (per pale or and azure, a dragon's head argent) He is on a quest to kill an evil witch in her lair.
  34. Sir Aneirin of Worcestershire (argent, a dog's head proper) Ex-lover appears to warn away new love interest. He is on a quest to destroy city of rival faith.
  35. Sir Gwynwiw of East Lothian (per chevron sable and or, a bell sable) Siblings framed him with scandal to get him out of the way. His lady love is treats his alter ego with contempt and as unworthy of love. He is on a quest to gather priests and acolytes and sail to an undiscovered land to preach the faithful.
  36. Sir Rhydderch of County Durham (per pale vert and argent, a sword sable) His lady love's family could affect his income or popularity.
  37. Sir Dinogad of Warwickshire (per fess vert, argent, and the first, a boar rampant proper) Accidentally buried alive while recovering from plague. He is on a quest to capture agent of hell and convert them.
  38. Sir Cadogan of Caer Lind-colun (vert, a unicorn courant facing to chief argent) Family outlawed and property seized by kings men.
  39. Sir Cadwystl of Bute (per pale purpure and or, a sword or) He is on a quest to challenge every priest of another religion he meets to a fight.
  40. Sir Tudwal of Caer Meguidd (sable, a sword proper) Ogres or trolls captured him and almost ate him until a hero rescued him. His lady love is has multiple affairs.
  41. Sir Brezelgonan of Dumfriesshire (or, a human in minstrel’s garb sable, clutching a lyre or, gules) Enemy made his love interest dangerous for him to touch or be near each other. He is on a quest to recover a lost hero trapped or slumbering for an age.
  42. Sir Teilio of Caer Maunguid (per chevron argent and purpure, a hare passant argent) Sorceress was offended and no new children born in family since. His lady love is related to a villain. He is on a quest to raise an army to wage war on evil.
  43. Sir Artan of Middlesex (per pale or and purpure, a hexagram or) Family killed by invading military force. He is on a quest to kill artists or bards who slander his liege.
  44. Sir Gloywfedd of Caer Durnac (gules, a plow proper) His lady love exposes herself to threats unreasonably, expecting rescue.
  45. Sir Elfodd of Caer Legion (per fess argent and sable, a wheel or) He is on a quest to found a new temple in hostile land.
  46. Sir Marak of Oxfordshire (per chevron sable and argent, a sword argent) His lady love is involved in secret high risk thrills. He is on a quest to protect a supernatural being from evil.
  47. Sir Uthemour of Berkshire (per fess azure, or, and the first, a key proper) Clan head struck by madness and ruined families position. Ex-lover becomes BFF with current love interest.
  48. Sir Gwrgant of Berwickshire (per bend gules and argent, a harp proper) Clan member meddled with magic and unleashed apocalypse on family estate.
  49. Sir Ceredig of Caer Guent (per fess argent and vert, a human clutching a bell and staff argent, or) He is on a quest to care for all widows and orphans he meets.
  50. Sir Beron of Cumberland (per fess azure and argent, a deer affronte proper) His lady love is carried away from the earth.
  51. Sir Evens of Midlothian (purpure, a sword argent) Met someone who is infatuated by him and is now his stalker. He is on a quest to bring faith to a newly discovered land.
  52. Sir Anthun of Caer Celemion (sable, a flame or) Family beheaded by mob. He is on a quest to live as a holy hermit when not adventuring.
  53. Sir Bagderiath of Bedfordshire (per bend azure and or, a roundel proper) Family lands forced to sacrifice of gold and children to a demon every decade. Temporal assassins from possible future seek to erase him and love interest from timeline. He is on a quest to drive a demon from the earth.
  54. Sir Myrddin of Lanarkshire (per pale azure and argent, a cup proper) Ancestor revealed to be necromancer and crypt empty. Wizard sages appear to see if the chosen one has been conceived or born yet.
  55. Sir Andrecoir of Hampshire (argent, a sword azure) Family murdered by enemy usurper who stole everything.
  56. Sir Buzval of Caer Daun (per fess gules and or, a badger rampant regardant purpure) Aggressive competitive romantic rival challenges him constantly.
  57. Sir Breichiol of Caer Merddyn (per fess azure and argent, a cock wings displayed and expanded argent) A tormented ancestor spirit begged him to redeem their tragic mistake. He is on a quest to give up his name and title.
  58. Sir Carnwemer of Caer Ceint (argent, a swan wings displayed and expanded gules) Family burned alive in family estate. His lady love is taking up a dangerous task. He is on a quest to build a cathedral.
  59. Sir Uthelan of Caer Colun (azure, a snow crystal or) He is on a quest to wage a war on sin until god satisfied.
  60. Sir Arthfoddw of Sussex (or, a book proper) Born a bastard and always treated second rate by family.
  61. Sir Launt of Gloucestershire (per pale or and purpure, a lion rampant regardant argent) An attractive person needs to be rescued, promises to make it up to him. He is on a quest to help victims of a plague and live among the sufferers until it is over.
  62. Sir Gwastram of Caer Guricon (per bend or and purpure, a badger passant proper) Family connected to history of evil relic granted by evil god. Family do not approve of love and want to save him.
  63. Sir Hoywgi of Cambridgeshire (argent, a harp gules) He is on a quest to cleanse the undead from a former holy place or burial place.
  64. Sir Gwrgi of Yorkshire (per pale sable and or, a dragon to sinister proper) Ancestor famous black magician who sacrificed peasants. Person he would never consider admits awkwardly they love him.
  65. Sir Glaimedes of County (argent, an annulet sable) Raised by clan enemies as part of peace settlement. He is on a quest to offer help to every priest he meets.
  66. Sir Deiniol of Cumberland (per bend argent and vert, a sword or) A family member hates his love interest and tries to sabotage love. He is on a quest to slay a fantastic behemoth that has menaced humankind for eons.
  67. Sir Anarawd of Wiltshire (sable, a deer rampant or) Family kept in dungeon slowly died one by one forgotten.
  68. Sir Rhiol of Aberdeen (per pale argent and purpure, a bow argent) Lover or spouse back from the dead with incredible story.
  69. Sir Tewdwr of Caer Correi (argent, a bow vert) Forced into marriage with unpleasant mate and fled before wedding. An attractive young woman flirts with him outrageously. He is on a quest to conquer a kingdom in name of God.
  70. Sir Perival of Caer Guin Truis (per bend sinister purpure and argent, a falcon rising proper) He lived as a lycanthrope for years until a holy person healed him. His lady love is charged with a crime. He is on a quest to punish a race of giant menacing a community of faithful.
  71. Sir Cynlas of Northamptonshire (per chevron or and purpure, a snow crystal argent) Ancestor was a secret murderer and victim corpses found on estate to this day.
  72. Sir Ieuan of Cambridgeshire (or, an anchor purpure) A charming sociopath knight worms way into his life. He is on a quest to retrieve a relic to a far off land.
  73. Sir Rhufawn of Lincolnshire (argent, a lion rampant regardant sable) He is on a quest to raise a prosperous, pious family.
  74. Sir Beli of Derbyshire (or, a lozenge proper) His lady love is obsessed with following him everywhere.
  75. Sir Boriet of Cornwall (per bend argent and vert, a rose sejant sable) Goatmen took him as a sacrifice but he escaped to find nobody believed him. He is on a quest to establish a monastery in the wilderness.
  76. Sir Afactor of London (argent, a bow azure) his family sent him as child sacrifice to a monster but a hero rescued him. Discovered children from past relationship.
  77. Sir Twrch of Clackmannanshire (azure, a Saint Andrew's Cross or) Possessed by a ghost for several years then discarded when no longer needed. He is on a quest to always help apprehend evil-doers on the king's road.
  78. Sir Kadlaouen of Caer Segeint (per bend sinister argent and purpure, a badger courant facing to chief argent) He is on a quest to establish an orphanage and school.
  79. Sir Siân of Caer Glout (purpure, an elk rampant argent) Had a child out of wedlock in secret while young. A hot mysterious person flirts with him, and will soon turn out later to be a blackguard. He is on a quest to kidnap a saint.
  80. Sir Camlahot of Essex (per chevron or and vert, an ox statant vert) Clan head struck by paranoia and killed many kinsman and scattered the rest.
  81. Sir Esclawr of Sussex (sable, a human with a sword or, argent) His lady love is an agent or spy. He is on a quest to destroy relic of rival faith.
  82. Sir Kydain of Herefordshire (or, a torch proper) An enemy developed a crush and risks plans to be near him.
  83. Sir Dagoner of Angus (gules, a human winged, volant, or) Family gaining reputation as torturers and murderers. Time travelers come and give him a child he will have in future for safe keeping.
  84. Sir Gwyndeyrn of Westmorland (per pale sable and argent, a spearhead gules) His lady love is has criminal, political or military family ties.
  85. Sir Merwydd of Caer Dourbruf (purpure, an anchor argent) Ancestor walked from crypt to haunt him but was finally stopped by priest. Angel tells him that how his current love interest pans out will determine fate of the world.
  86. Sir Maelgwn of Caer Canovion (azure, a harp or) He is on a quest to give great wealth to the church.
  87. Sir Rhiannon of Aberdeenshire (sable, a pelican rising argent) His lady love tries to protect him and deal with his enemies. He is on a quest to rescue an bound supernatural being and convert it .
  88. Sir Maredudd of Caer Pensa vel Coyt (or, a salmon proper) Giants captured him and he was a plaything of their children for years.
  89. Sir Godebog of Essex (per pale or and vert, a lion rampant purpure) Sent to live with foreign enemies as hostage. A wizard from future tells him to stick with current love interest no matter what. He is on a quest to destroy a secret enemy cult.
  90. Sir Meirion of Dorset (per pale or and sable, a crescent purpure) Family estate and clan cursed and sealed from world with monster guardians. He is on a quest to swear to serve a hierophant or king in the name of his faith.
  91. Sir Isdenc of Cromartyshire (per chevron azure and argent, an annulet proper) He is on a quest to exterminate magical creature sacred to rivals.
  92. Sir Selyf of Derbyshire (per chevron or and purpure, a turtle rampant proper) Locked in tower by wizard to keep clan silent. His lady love is ill and needing difficult treatment. He is on a quest to slay a minority of unbelievers in his land.
  93. Sir Hedrek of Caer legion guar uisc (per pale gules and argent, a key azure) Family murdered by kinsman attempting to control clan. He is on a quest to slay a great beast menacing the faithful.
  94. Sir Ywaivres of Caer Sallwg (per pale or and sable, a tower azure) Family has many practitioners of forbidden magic.
  95. Sir Gwrwystl of Durham (per pale or and sable, a human with a sword and shield or, argent) His lady love is obsessed with marrying him, but he feels he cannot.
  96. Sir Eithinyn of Caer Peris (per fess or and gules, a cross proper) Ex-lover desperately in some trouble and needs care and help. He is on a quest to collect materials from dangerous place far away to help build new cathedral.
  97. Sir Nudd of Kinross-shire (per pale vert, argent, and the first, a Saint Andrew's Cross gules) Family overrun by faerie folk. His lady love is attracts attentions of criminals or a villain.
  98. Sir Coel of Huntingdonshire (purpure, a bell argent) Ancestor led a cult for years terrifying commoners.
  99. Sir Afarnus of Kirkcudbrightshire (argent, a boar rampant regardant gules) A tribe of giants kept him to serve their king who humiliated him. An attractive rival has become friends with his his lady love. He is on a quest to seal a portal to the fairy realm.
  100. Sir Cynfarch of Caer Baddon (per bend vert and or, a tree or) Visions of another, similar world have shown him with a surprising lover. He is on a quest to serve a noble in defense of the faith.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Considerations on Jaquaysing the Dungeon

In celebrating the life of Jennell Jaquays and observing the renewed interest in her work, I wanted to go over the method of Jaquaysing dungeons, facets of the practice, and its limitations. I am retreading the work of others, but by putting it in my own way I help myself to crystalize the thought and may put the idea in a way that better suits some readers.

from Caverns of Thracia

Use of the term "Jaquaysing" to refer to interconnecting and looping designs in dungeon goes back to 2010, after OSR luminary Justin Alexande's tribute to game designer Jennell Jaquays, going through her 1979 adventure module "The Caverns of Thracia'' and highlighting how it was designed with a freedom of explorative route in mind. Jaquaysing was coined by the blog's readers, riffing off of a similar term the author employed.

By making the order in which a party proceeds through dungeon areas nonlinear, you have an easy way of introducing meaningful choices and interesting discoveries. When the only way to a certain point is to go through the swinging blades room, you get to make the interesting choice of how to avoid the blades. If you have to go through either the swinging blades room or somehow cross the bottomless pit, then you get to make the decision of which problem you want to try to solve. Suddenly, you might find yourself coming at problems from behind or discovering new routes of escape and ways to cut monsters off. Neat!

When PCs might explore an area in many different ways, the person designing the dungeon is discouraged from using certain tricks. They can't as easily contrive a linear story for the PCs to proceed through, and instead have to design a space where it makes sense for the players to interact with elements in a varied order. The designer can't assume too much about how PCs are coming to interact with "set pieces" and "scripted encounters."

The simplest kind of loop is for a door or hallway to connect two dungeon areas which would otherwise be separated by multiple other areas. The more of a shortcut this is, the bigger the loop. If a connection is only a shortcut by one or two areas, we normally don't even call it a loop. 

When a dungeon has multiple entrances or exits to the outside world, it becomes a loop too. You can usually think of the outside world as a single dungeon area for the purposes of Jaquaysing, and thus two dungeon entrances that may be very far apart can connect disparate areas, especially when the overworld is relatively safe. If a dungeon area is housed in a large building with windows and scaleable walls, there might be many forms of egress.

from Caverns of Thracia

Many dungeons have multiple levels, often increasing in danger the further down you go. When there are multiple ways to access a level, that too becomes a loop. These can be very rewarding to figure out, as canny players can use a safer level to skirt danger on their way to an area on a lower level.

a labyrinth

Sometimes, you can have sections of a dungeon composed of many closely-intersecting rooms, like a checkerboard of connections. This annex of rooms sort of functions as one really big connection rather than one very-well jaquaysed one. I call these areas "spongy" because they are so porous to traversal. Going through a spongy area feels like you're traversing a labyrinth,  even when its layout is relatively simple. Using spongy areas is its own kind of technique, but a related principle to Jaquaysing.

Few rooms in this dungeon are far off from main thoroughfare. What are the pros and cons of laying out a dungeon this way?

I think Jaquaysing is a really valuable tool in the dungeon design toolbelt, but there are times when its thoughtless application is unwise. For one, the dungeon designer must be careful that they are not placing so many connections in a space that it becomes confusing. Players with too many choices can struggle overlong in trying to figure out the best way to go, which is why I generally try to have no more than four ways out of a dungeon area, including the way the PCs just came through.

Part of why we are Jaquaysing in the first place is to give the players interesting decisions when planning their routes. If we add too many connections, there will be an increasing number of no-brainer routes to take, routes which avoid every major obstacle. Ideally, PCs will sometimes have to brave the more dangerous and inconvenient paths, but if everything connects to everything that's never going to happen.

a dungeon layout that's a little too overconnected

When we look at the floorplans of many historical structures, we find they are Jaquaysed as hell. But if we seek verisimilitude in designing a layout, as we sometimes might, we find there are some kinds of structure that really aren't that Jaquaysed, and we may decide that keeping with that is more interesting than shoe-horning in a few extra connections.

In Jaquaysing a dungeon, there are several tricks we can employ to keep a loop a bit more interesting to deal with. This can preserve the difficulty that keeps the decision of a route interesting, or prevent a loop from being used in all circumstances. I call these qualified loops.

The simplest example is using a locked door to cut off a loop. Until the key is found or the door is destroyed, PCs will have to take the long route. This is best employed when the blocked-off loop is really juicy or would be useful for many visits to the dungeon. It would be lame to mostly clear a dungeon, finally find the key, and realize that it just connects two areas you're never going to visit again.

The secret doors off of 38 can shortcut a much more indirect journey. Adapted from Tomb of the Serpent Kings.

Another common qualified loop is making the loop connection secret, as with a secret door. Perceptive plays may learn a new route to employ, while others may not discover it.

You can make a loop connection clear, but obstruct the way with some kind of hazard or barricade. A hallway that is mostly caved-in and would take time and tools to clear is a good example. The cost to access the loop is a logistical one. This kind of qualified loop is also a useful way to introduce a new hazard to old sections of a dungeon, as it creates a loop that wandering monsters or intelligent factions can use too. 

Alternatively, the obstruction could be one that is only present some of the time. A heavy drawbridge that lowers for twelve hours in a day will only sometimes allow a party to use its loop, and until they figure out exactly when it raises and lowers they may fall victim to a nasty surprise as their exit is cut off.

A loop connection is also a good place to put monsters and guards. This presents yet another kind of cost to access the loop.

One of the more interesting qualified loops to me is the one-way passage, any connection that lets you go one way but not another. This makes for a great alternative dungeon entrance, something that injects you deep in a dungeon but that requires you to take another way out.

Finally, a loop connection might impose some kind of restriction on what can go through it. Players will have to consider whether it's worth it to leave their metal objects behind when they walk through the Hypermagnet Chamber, or who among them can most afford to open the door whose key is fresh blood.

When laying out a dungeon, keep in mind which areas are siloed off, which are looped, where natural intersections form, and what the potential flow through that dungeon will be. After you lay out and key a dungeon, consider how the different obstacles and challenges may redirect a party through the dungeon. A thoughtfully Jaquaysed dungeon can be more dynamic, interesting, and enjoyable.

You are ready for A D V E N T U R E !